Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



All of My Friends

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Failing Grade

Quick! Take a picture!

In Southern Alberta, in the sixties, the country roads were more a suggestion than an actual fact.
Sketchy at best.
When conditions were dry, they stretched, bare and passable for miles.
And miles.
When conditions were wet, Heaven help you.
Gravel was non-existent.
Drivers used such words to describe them as: Greasy. Slick. A blooming nightmare.
And *&*()+}|?@#$%^&!!!
The county employed men and machinery to maintain said roads.
Actually catching sight of one was right up there with spotting a unicorn.
Definitely something to pass on to your children.
“Kids, there was a time when I saw . . . the road grader!!!”
“Oooooh!”
But occasionally, their presence (rather than the lack of it), would be felt.
Let me explain . . .
My next older brother, George was driving our Dad’s late-model truck.
I used to know the make, model and year.
Now all I can remember is: It was yellow.
Moving on . . .
He was heading out to see friends.
Or just coming back from seeing some friends.
Both activities took him along the same stretch of road.
He topped a rise.
And there, completely blocking the entire road, was a pile of gravel.
A large pile of gravel.
Pushed there by the road grader.
Or dropped there by a passing gravel truck.
Then abandoned while the mastermind took a much-needed coffee break.
Or nap.
Stopping was out of the question.
George was left with two choices.
And two seconds in which to make one.
Hit the gravel.
Or hit the ditch.
He chose the gravel.
WHUMP!
The truck engine instantly began to make loud, distinctly un-muffled noises.
Remember “*&*()+}|?@#$%^&!!!”?
Well, that would apply here.
He stopped and got out.
The manifold had been neatly and surgically separated from the rest of the muffler system.
“*&*()+}|?@#$%^&!!!” again.
Fortunately, that was the extent of the damage and George was able to drive home without further incident.
To face the Wrath of Dad.
After a few minutes in which:
1.      George’s driving was severely called into question, followed by
2.      A diatribe against the roads and road maintenance in general,
3.      An appointment was made to get the muffler replaced.
I went with Dad to facilitate this final decision.
We were driving down the main street of Milk River.
Normally, Milk River is a quiet place.
Conversations while standing on the street corner are entirely possible.
And frequent.
There was one going on as we passed.
Between, believe it or not, several of George’s friends.
Dad and I smiled and waved.
Then Dad shifted the truck into neutral and floored the gas pedal.
The truck made a loud, distinctive and courageous ‘BLAAAAAT’.
That echoed off the buildings and shattered glass.
Okay, I’m making up the whole ‘shattered glass’ thing, but the rest is true.
The whole street turned to look.
Dad grinned.
Put the truck back into gear.
And proceeded.
I stared at him.
This was the Dad who, very recently, had been berating my brother for suspected ‘horsing around causing vehicle damage’.
Dad obviously knew what he was talking about.
That acorn definitely hadn't fallen very far from that tree.

17 comments:

  1. What man, when given the opportunity, will not take advantage of said opportunity to let loose with a loud BLAAAAT? Age means nothing...maturity means nothing...all it requires is a male. Oooooooh...you meant the muffler didn't you?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll definitely be passing this story on to said Dad. Happy New Year to you all up there, and congrats on the whisker shaving--definitely looks very un-santa like!! Shirley Jorstad

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Remind him of his hot-rod day! Me and 'Un-Santa' wish you a very Happy New Year as well!

      Delete
  3. Boy do I remember that! There were 4 of us in the cab. Well past dark. We came up over that rise and here was a massive windrow (not just a pile) of dirt and gravel scraped up from the sides of the road. We hit that squarely and the truck was very difficult to keep under control. I remember Peggy screaming: 'Don't tip over; don't tip over!' I think that for a moment we actually were up on 2 wheels. I stopped to take a look. Judy got out and threw up while Blaine started jabbering in some language I never heard before or since. Peggy never went out with me again; I guess she thought I was too dangerous...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't remember how many were there with you. I only remember how white you were when you got home and told Dad about it. You were pretty shaken up . . . You need to write this one in your blog!

      Delete
  4. Boys and their cars... ahh.. I mean men... lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. the only difference between them is age!

      Delete
  5. Was the grader operator ever informed? (or the department of highways/roads or whoever was in charge)

    This certainly had the potential to turn out much worse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, the county was definitely 'informed'. In large voices . . .

      Delete
  6. Ha Ha, I think I like your dad. BLAAAT!
    And I'm glad no one was hurt when the truck hit the gravel pile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dad is always good for the unexpected. And fortunately there was some stunt driver potential in my brother!!!

      Delete
  7. I must say that this post was fun. I loved the story. I am smiling because it sounds so familiar with my experiences with my father and brother.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you, LeAnn! Fathers and brothers, right? Blessings back to you!

      Delete
  8. Loved this read Diane, and then how fun, so much fun the comment and interaction from brother George! This is all simply "great good stuff"....very enjoyed, thanks for sharing. your friend @grammakaye on twitter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Kaye! He was and still is my best friend!

      Delete
  9. Very interesting Diane! I am now a new Follower of your Blog. Have a good weekend.
    Judy - Judy H-J's Thoughts

    ReplyDelete

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